Finding the perfect candidate is a challenge, and poor hiring decisions can cost your company thousands. From lost productivity to negative client engagement, it’s estimated that the wrong hire can set your business back $50,000. To lower this cost, you’ll need to reduce your risk. Red flags that may or should disqualify a candidate Employers who want to lower their hiring risks need to optimize their hiring process. You can spot a bad hire immediately by recognizing subtle red flags like the following 13. 1. Red flag: applying for every open position in the company From the recruiter's perspective, people who apply for multiple positions are likely inclusive and flexible, but they prefer that candidates use a role that closely aligns with their experience. That way, employers and recruiters can match candidates with positions they’ll thrive in. 2. Possible red flag: no eye contact, bragging, unprofessional speech No one likes to be judged so interviews can be traumatic for some people. Even top salespeople may stutter, look away when speaking, ramble, or brag during an interview. They're likely a good candidate if they have a stunning track record but don’t interview well. Neurodivergent people are often uncomfortable maintaining eye contact and may show nervous ticks, like twirling hair or foot tapping, when relaxed. These habits shouldn’t reflect a person’s ability to work, especially if they weren’t in a customer or client-facing role. 3. Red flag: unexplained lateness for an interview If a candidate is late and they call ahead to explain the situation, there’s a high chance you can still rely on them. However, if the candidate is late and acts like it isn’t a big deal, that’s a giant red flag. It could mean they’ll be late or out sick often, which will affect your bottom line. 4. Possible red flag: resume gaps, job hopping, inconsistent career Like it or not, resume gaps, job-hopping, and career inconsistencies are the norm in American businesses. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, workers aged 25 to 34 only stay at their jobs for 2.8 years. This trend is likely to continue over the next decade. When asked why job-hopping is more common, employees say it's due to a lack of incentives, growth potential, or healthy culture. It’s unlikely your candidate has a gap in their resume for a negative reason, so get an answer as to why the gap exists before sending a rejection letter. 5. Red flag: not asking questions and unpreparedness Candidates that don’t know anything about your company when asked, dress unprofessionally, or don’t bring documentation to the interview are likely disorganized or not serious about the job. If they leave the interview without asking you questions about the position, that’s a red flag. 6. Possible red flag: candidate asks questions about benefits If a candidate only asks questions about benefits, like vacation time or health care, and doesn’t ask you about anything else, that’s a red flag. However, if they want clarification about your benefits because the job posting wasn’t clear, that shows genuine interest in your company. Employers must understand that Americans typically receive health coverage from their jobs, so questions about health benefits shouldn’t be an automatic red flag. It’s essential to your candidates that they receive what they need or won’t be able to grow your company. 7. Red flag: suspicious social media presence It’s common for employers to look up a potential employee’s social media presence. Your employees should take the time to private or delete anything that could reflect poorly on your brand. If you find anything suspicious or unprofessional, move on to a new candidate. 8. Possible red flag: candidate is overqualified for the role Overqualified employees can be a dream come true for a business or its worst nightmare. On the one hand, overqualified employees will work for less pay. On the other hand, they’ll leave when a higher-paying job comes along. With that logic, it’s better not to hire them. However, overqualified employees will stay at your company if you treat them well. If you can’t offer higher pay, give them space to grow or work on your company culture. If employers convince them to stay, an overqualified employee can be an excellent asset for struggling startups. 9. Red flag: bad mouthing past employers or employees We’ve all worked with a manager we didn’t like or coworkers we weren’t compatible with. Still, there’s no good reason to insult past employers on social media or otherwise. If a candidate does this, they’re unprofessional, likely uncompromising, and may not work well in a team. 10. Possible red flag: not offering references If you request references and the candidate says they don’t have any, that’s a red flag, but not for the reason you think. Recent graduates, self-employed individuals, immigrants, or employees who left on bad terms may not have employer references for a logical reason. However, they should still give you something. Candidates can still have work references from former colleges or supervisors, academic references from teachers, or character references from the people they know. A lack of references should indicate laziness, not untrustworthy. 11. Red flag: spelling or grammar mistakes on resume Candidates should check for spelling or grammar mistakes on their resume before applying for jobs because it shows they pay careful attention to their work. If the resume is beyond help, they didn’t run the document through a spell checker, which offers a lack of care. 12. Possible red flag: lack of driver’s license There are genuine reasons why a lack of driver’s licenses or consistent transportation could be a red flag. If driving is a crucial aspect of their job or if the candidate lives over an hour away, they should have access to reliable transportation. If not, then it shouldn’t matter. You’re worried the candidate will be late. Most people who walk, carpool, or take the bus to work typically don’t have the means to buy cars. That doesn’t mean they’ll be unreliable, and they may be more reliable because of their circumstances. 13. Red flag: lack of specific work examples Candidates should be able to use specific examples to answer behavioural or technical interview questions. If they don’t, they may not have enough experience. However, it could also mean they don’t have an example for that question, so be sure to ask more than one. Therefore, you should be alert to consider these red flags for your own benefits and convenience. 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